Sunday, January 17, 2010

Am I strict with my diet? - Part 1

A couple weeks ago someone asked me if I was strict with my diet. I have lost a lot of weight this year and I'd venture to say that people probably think I eat nothing but salad, organic and no-carb.

I figured it's time to really touch on some key factors in my new lifestyle that have helped me get healthier and slimmer.

The number one thing for me was becoming AWARE. Which started mostly with becoming a vegetarian. Now before you start thinking "oh forget this... I'm not going vegetarian!" let me clarify that I didn't go vegetarian because I wanted to lose weight. As I became aware of what I was eating, I started evaluating what made me feel good & tasted good and what didn't. I never liked meat. I ate it because I figured I had to, and now I realized I didn't have to. I began reading labels to keep meat products out of my diet.

Before I started anything with myself, we realized my daughter had a wheat/gluten allergy. This also added to being aware of reading labels and I started taking notice to the reactions my body was having to certain foods like her body was to wheat/gluten.

So now here I am reading labels for my daughter and I... and I started to realize what was actually IN our food! When I understood the foods we were eating, I could also understand how those foods made me feel. Which foods made me feel energized, or instead tired and sluggish.. which ones caused cramping and discomfort. Things that we normally relate nothing to our body's reaction to the fuel we're putting in it.

With this I recognized I had a problem with dairy. Mostly sweet dairy (ice cream, icings, some cakes, the filling in sandwich cookies...) I would get cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting. I felt all around crappy when I had these foods. And ya know what? They're chock full of sugar and very little, if any, nutritional value. So I was ok giving them up.

As I became aware and active, I also started noticing my appetite decrease. I was hungry sometimes. Not all the time. It made me feel better to eat during hungry times because I knew my body was saying it needed it, not just because I was bored or upset. However, I didn't wait until I was so hungry that I was sick. Keeping blood levels calm is very important.

This started the #1 best rule I started following. If it didn't have nutritional value then I didn't eat it or I added some. Like adding a leafy green salad to the side of my pizza. This made me fuller on less pizza and eventhough pizza isn't healthy food, I was still able to eat something I liked WITH something nutritional. By doing this, I forced myself to be aware of what I was putting in my mouth - did this fuel my body? Was this going to satisfy my hunger or make me even more hungry later? Was it going to make me cranky and tired or leave me feeling satisfied and energized?

So am I strict with my diet? No, but yes. I still eat some unhealthy foods that I enjoy, but I don't only eat that and I limit my portions of those foods. I am more strict with refusing to take in foods that make me feel yucky, but I still slip up and crave a cookie or a piece of cake. I just don't dwell on it, but I stay AWARE that I ate this.

Through this journey, I've learned to love and respect food again. It isn't the enemy. It doesn't have to feel like I'm limited and missing out. I can eat what I want, in moderation, but I choose not to put unhealthy/artificial stuff in my mouth on a regular basis. This makes eating much more enjoyable.

Here are some of the changes I've made in my own and my family's daily diet the past year:
~Eggs - go free-range and/or organic
~Salad - pick spinach, mixed spring greens, or other dark leaves. Don't choose Iceberg.
~Sauces - natural. Check the labels and choose ones without High Fructose Corn Syrup. Go with the least amount of sugar and salt as possible. The ingredients should be easy to read and mostly consist of vegetables and water.
~Fruits & Veggies - buy fresh. If you must buy canned/packaged/frozen, then choose anything packed in water or it's own juice (not syrup) and make sure the ingredients don't add sugar or sodium ('no salt added').
~Meat - really try your best to buy hormone/antibiotic free. It tastes better and is better for you. Cut down on the red meat the best you can. The best choice for meat is chicken breast.
~Dairy products - again go as natural as possible. I personally switched my daughter and I to Almond milk and choose coconut yogurt over other kinds.
~Bread/Starches - whole grain, whole wheat. WHOLE being the key word. Just because it's brown and says wheat does not mean it's good for you. Check that it doesn't have HFCS. Do this for bread, pasta, crackers, etc.
~Drinks - I don't drink coffee. When I have tea, it's decaffienated. We don't keep soda or juice in the house. We'll sometimes get soda with our pizza when we go to our favorite spot, and occasionally I buy OJ... but almost always our fluid intake is water only. Also, I goal to take in my body weight (lbs) in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds, take in 150 ounces of water daily.

Take vitamins. Do research on what would be best for your lifestyle. But at least get on a multi-vitamin asap.

The theme you may notice here is that I've chosen to go with as little preservative-filled artificial food as possible. BE AWARE of what you're eating, even when you are eating something that isn't the best food for you. You can't just ignore that. When we ignore what we're eating we tend to eat more and keep eating crap.

I can honestly say that I hate counting calories. I've done it maybe a dozen times. I say I'll try and then I slack off and I just don't totally believe in ONLY counting calories. It's only ONE part of the foods we eat. There's also nutrients, vitamins, sodium, fiber, sugar, carbs, fat... What about these? I can eat low calorie soup that has like 850mgs of sodium per 1/2 cup! That isn't good. If I'm only looking at calories then it looks great, but there's more to food than calories. AND... calories are good. Yeah I said it. We need calories for energy. We need calories to fuel our bodies. So please, I beg of you, don't only count calories. Don't go that route. If you want to count calories, also look at all the other information as well and choose more natural foods that don't need to add preservatives and sugars to create a more flavorful taste. If you want more taste then add fruit, honey, pepper, fresh/dried seasonings, a dash of salt (much better than the loads of sodium the companies will pour into their food!). Just do NOT be in bondage over JUST calories! Use it only as a guideline for keeping portion control in check. Also take notice, the more natural the food the less caloric content it usually has.. meaning the more you can eat!

I'm absolutely no expert. I'm learning new stuff everyday and have made mistakes along the way. I'll continue to learn and make mistakes. That's what makes it a journey. Most of us have gotten so lost on the path of healthy living, or were never even on the path in the first place! I grew up eating a whole box of mac & cheese to myself. Ordering the #2 (2 cheeseburgers, fries and a soda) @ McDonald's even at 8 years old. I'd smother my pasta in butter and eat it on Italian bread. I know what got me to where I am now. And I don't want that for my children or for myself any longer. I'm sure there are plenty more healthy changes I could make, but our family is healthier now than it was last year and we'll only continue to get better!


Jrsygurl4life said...

OMG...When you said mac & Cheese and pasta with garlic bread, my mouth watered. LOL, those are familiar comfort foods.

When I come visit. You are going to show me how to look for these types of things and shop better :)

Coach KBeans said...

hahahaha you're sooo pregnant lmao

I'm probably coming to visit there first. I'll see you this time!